Sepang to crown Lorenzo as 2010 MotoGP Champion?

Published on July 27th, 2010

While there will be three more rounds after the 2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, MotoGP championship leader Jorge Lorenzo may not need them to officially confirm his first ever crown for the premiership class.

Many including Sepang International Circuit (SIC) Chief Executive Officer Razlan Razali believes that the young Spaniard could wrap up his world championship battle as early as Round 15 at Sepang Circuit on a magical day of October 10, 2010.

“Looking at his current performance and consistency the likelihood of Lorenzo winning his first premiere championship in Sepang looks good,” said Razlan when asked to comment on the Spaniard’s sixth victory in nine races as the MotoGP championship concluded the first half of its season.

After nine races and another nine to go this season, the Fiat Yamaha rider had amassed a sensational haul of 210 points; opening a massive 72-point advantage over closest rival and compatriot Dani Pedrosa of Repsol Honda, who has 138 points. Italian Andrea Dovizioso, also from the Repsol Honda camp, is third with 115 points. Casey Stoner is fourth with 103 points and Valentino Rossi in fifth place with 90 points.

Sepang would host Round 15 of this year’s expanded 18-leg championship and if Lorenzo can add another four points to his current point-advantage to 76 points by the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix, he would officially be crowned as the 2010 MotoGP champion; displacing his Fiat Yamaha team-mate, Rossi.

Last year, more than 59,000 fans saw Rossi clinching his ninth world title and seventh MotoGP crown in Sepang where the flamboyant Italian marked the occasion by showing off to the crowd a chicken and a golden egg marked with a symbolical number #9. Others that had celebrated winning the world titles in Sepang included Marco Simoncelli, Dani Pedrosa and the late Daijiro Katoh.

Unlike the last few years when Sepang had hosted the penultimate round, the 2010 race calendar had slotted the Grand Prix of Australia (October 17); Portugal (October 31) and Valencia on November 7 after the Malaysian race. Effectively, it means that there would be a maximum of 75 championship points that could be won after Sepang.

Razlan added, “Lorenzo has been quite impressive throughout the first half of this season… there were one or two times when he managed to beat his team mate Rossi, even when Rossi was at his best. He has crashed less and is more experienced this year. For the last few races, Lorenzo looks unbeatable similar how it was during Rossi’s reign of supremacy. Even if there were a slightest threat, it was the next rider that made a mistake and hence, allowed Lorenzo to break away.”

“Unless, though, Lorenzo makes the mistakes in the second half of season – in which looks unlikely … but, then, in racing anything can happen. It is also up to Pedrosa and Stoner to be as consistent and pressure Lorenzo to make mistakes. But, instead as we have seen in the last race at the US Grand Prix in Laguna Seca. While in the lead, it was Pedrosa, who made the mistake which allows Lorenzo to extend his lead. Hence, the possibility of Lorenzo clinching the title for the first time in Malaysia looks strong, which is great for the 20th Malaysian MotoGP and the fans,” he added.

Though Lorenzo – winner two 250cc crown – is playing down his chances of winning his first ever MotoGP title, few would bet against the 23-year old Spaniard, who had finished either first or second in all nine races this year. Others that had managed to win this year were only Pedrosa and Rossi, who was forced to skip four races when he broke his leg in Mugello.

In his post-race comments after the US Grand Prix, Lorenzo said, “Racing is racing and a lot of other things can happen …You can blow the engine or you can crash two or three times, so we must be patient.”

“Half the season is still left and it wouldn’t be the first time a rider has lost the title with such a big lead.  We have a great gap now so we must enjoy the holidays and then start thinking about Brno and keep pushing for the championship,” he said of the next race on the circuit on August 15 in Czech Republic.

Razlan said that if the Malaysian GP, which is celebrating its 20th edition this year, truly turned out to be a potential title decider, it would indeed boost further SIC’s mission to beat its record Race Day attendance last year of 59,206 spectators.

“It is always fantastic when the title decider is decided or potentially to be decided at our Malaysian GP. We have seen it many times when Rossi clinches the title at our Malaysian GP. It draws the additional spectators to the circuit especially fans of Lorenzo which is from all over the world.”

“The trend is always a bigger crowd if the Championship are decided at a particular GP and hence the Malaysian GP,” said Razlan, who believed that the Spaniard’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi could be a supporting factor to Lorenzo clinching the title earlier this season.

“I don’t think Rossi will be able to challenge Lorenzo as his lead is quite big. But, by Rossi placing ahead of Lorenzo’s nearest challengers such as Pedrosa and Stoner, it will only help quicken further Lorenzo’s ride to his first title,” he said.

While the aging Rossi still remained as the overwhelming favourite worldwide, Lorenzo’s brigade of fans had been fast growing. Razlan, however, declared that he has yet to join expanding Lorenzo’s army of fans.

Asked whether he is a fan of Lorenzo, Razlan said, “Not yet. I do admire him. It is not easy to be a team mate of Rossi. Lorenzo is under tremendous pressure in the beginning, crashing all the time. Now, it seems he is more comfortable with the bike and team; more experienced and matured and hence absorbing the pressure really well to beat Rossi one or two times before Rossi suffered his injuries. It is a pity we are not able to witness the title fight with both riders right to the end,” Razlan concluded.

text & pix: SIC



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